What is Affiliate Link Cloaking – A Complete Guide?

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You may have heard of the word affiliate link Cloaking if you are into affiliate marketing or may have come across the same somewhere while reading. Many of the affiliates actually think of Cloaking is just to hide your referrer from the affiliate network or advertiser or traffic source however cloaking is way more than that what you can think of. I will be discussing “What is Cloaking” in this post & what are the reasons or how you can benefit from cloaking if you are affiliate marketer.

So let’s explore what cloaking is all about & why is it required & how you can do it?

What is Affiliate Link Cloaking?

In very simple terms affiliate link cloaking is hiding your URL referrer from the affiliate network or advertiser so that they can not know what is the original source of traffic or where exactly the traffic is coming from? For example, you are sending traffic from a source or an ad network & you do not want the advertiser to know that you are using the particular ad network to send traffic to advertiser or network. Let’s say you are using Google to send traffic to advertiser if you are not not using cloaking then advertiser will come to know from the reports that you are using Google to drive traffic which may be banned by the advertiser hence you would want to hide from the the advertiser that you are send traffic from google so you will make another layer of URL in order to hide the source. This is typically done using redirect method [302 redirect].

Lets understand this using an example, suppose you are using a network tracking link say “www.nwktracking.com/?id=1234”  which sends traffic to “www.xyz.com”. Now if you are using the network tracking link on Google directly without cloaking xyz.com will come to know or network will come to know the source of traffic is Google.

Now you cloak the affiliate URL “www.nwktracking.com/?id=1234” & it looks like something “www.abc.com/?id=1234” which is redirected to network tracking link 1st & then to www.xyz.com so now network will record the referrer as abc.com & not Google.

This is the simplest example of Cloaking a URL which hides the original source of traffic.

Advance Level of Affiliate Link Cloaking

Advance level of cloaking is using scripts or can be done using affiliate trackers (affiliate tracking softwares) e.g. Voluum, Thrive Tracker etc. if you are media buying affiliates and are promoting mobile campaigns or are using PPV marketing to promote campaigns.

So what other ways the cloaking can be done? Other ways of doing cloaking is showing different landing page than what you are promoting. Why would you do that? There are some traffic sources which do not allow landing pages which are aggressive or have some content which is not allowed to be promoted. So you can show a different landing page to traffic source (approval team based on their IPs, location etc.) using cloaking in order to get approved. This is generally done on Facebook & some adult ad networks. So if you are using a tracker you can cloak landing page based on below parameters.

  1. Based on IP: show a different landing page based on IP
  2. Based on GEO location: show a different landing page based on location
  3. Based on Device: show a different landing page based on mobile or desktop
  4. Based on Carriers: show a different landing page based on mobile carrier if you are promoting mobile campaigns.
  5. Other factors such as time zone, OS, Browser, referrer etc.

Above all can be cone using php scripts as well.

Why is Cloaking Required & How is it Done?

You know now what is cloaking, now the question is why would you want to cloak an affiliate URL. Although I have mentioned above however there could be other reasons as well. Lets list out all the reasons why cloaking is required?

  • To hide referrer of the originating traffic source so that network or advertiser does not come know the source of traffic. You may not want the source to be disclosed as other may steal this information or the particular traffic source is banned. You can use http://www.linktrackr.com/link-cloaker/ to cloak your affiliate link.
  • To show a different landing page to the traffic source in order to get approved on the traffic source g. facebook. This is done using scripts or a tracker such as Voluum or Thrive.
  • For SEO purpose, if you are using blog then you may want the affiliate links to be cloaked as uncloaked URLs may look ugly and are not search engine friendly. For wordpress users you can use thirstyaffiliates.com plugin in order to cloak your affiliate link.

Conclusion

Affiliate link cloaking is one of the integral & important parts of being successful in affiliate marketing. You can make it in affiliate marketing using this simple technique called affiliate cloaking or affiliate link cloaking.

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